Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category


You Review a Local Author: A Journey to the Sea – Francis R. S. Hardie

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Reviewed by Catarina Queiroz

A Journey to the Sea didn’t strike me as an interesting title to start with, and the subtitle A Goddamn Thing or the Unlived Life was too crude for my taste. Nevertheless, after actually reading the book I have to acknowledge that it’s a good combination: The Sea symbolizes the unconscious roots, the depths and the mysteries of the self. If the self never bothers to examine those depths, the pathetic result will be a passive life, an unreal person, an individual that never got around to doing a goddamn thing. Through references to poems, movies, philosophers and poets, this book dares you to reflect on the meaning of your life, or to make your life meaningful, which in the end might turn out to be the exact same thing.

At the heart of Francis Hardie’s argumentation is the Axiom of Maria, an obscure quotation from a 3rd century alchemist: “One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth”. Roughly following the interpretation of the psychiatrist Carl Jung, One is the starting point, unconscious wholeness. Two is the differentiation that comes with consciousness or individuality. Three is the effort to solve the conflict or tension between the conscious and unconscious, reaching wholeness again. This resolution is symbolized by Four, which is the same as returning to One. A Journey to the Sea is the journey of the self that goes from passive observer to active entrepreneur of its own life, stepping from conflict to resolution and hopefully reaching wholeness.

Summing things up, I wouldn’t say this book is a masterpiece of existential philosophy, but it has some interesting thoughts and insights into the human condition. If you’re interested in exploring the depths of your being in a witty and somewhat blunt way, with lots of difficult questions and no easy answers, read A Journey to the Sea. You might get bored, or you might get excited with the prospect of actually doing a goddamn thing with your life. Either way, it’s your call.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Francis Hardie presented his book at Meet My Book! in April.  It is sold on consignment at ABC Amsterdam.

You Review: How to Make a Human Being – Christopher Potter

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Reviewed by David Young

How to Make a Human Being has to be the most interesting and challenging book I’ve ever reviewed. No information about the author (I discover he is a publisher with a well-received “pop science” book to his name) or an introduction explaining the purpose of the book – no, the reader is plunged straight into the famous 18th century “Materialism” versus “Idealism” controversy stimulated by Bishop Berkeley. And it doesn’t get less challenging….

The book is divided into 3 sections: the first covers our physical environment (cosmology, physics, mathematics, philosophy), the second where we come from (genetics, psychology, more philosophy) and the third how we relate to the world around us (psychology, neurology, sociology). The author is an amazingly well-read polymath, but he wears his learning very lightly and is capable of explaining highly complex topics in a very comprehensible fashion – this is the nearest I’ve ever come to understanding Quantum Mechanics, for instance.

I recommend reading this book in small chunks, as every chapter is really full of meaty stuff which needs some absorbing. On the plus side the author occasionally drops in a delightful insight of his own which will certainly make you think, and there are some nuggets with which you can impress your dinner party guests (did you know that humans share 50% of their genes with bananas?).

Overall Christopher Potter has succeeded in presenting a remarkably comprehensive summary of the Human Condition, one from which I learnt a great deal and will return to in the future with enormous pleasure.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

ABC’s Gift Ideas: Philosophy, Photography, Plays, Poetry

Monday, November 18th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Philosophy, Photography, Plays and Poetry as picked out by section buyers Ester, Marten, Martijn and Tom. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

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Gift Ideas: Philosophy, Science, Business, Social Science

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost all ABC staff members are personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the stores. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and they came up with some great ones: new books, classic books, magazines, games, merchandise, and stationery.

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Philosophy, Business, Science, and Social Science as supplied by Ester, Tom, Sigrid, Jouke, Agnes, Martijn, Jeroen and Femke.

Even more gift ideas can be found here and here!

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This Just In: Philosophy

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Five Recently Arrived Titles from the Philosophy Section:

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